Jewish World Review May 29, 2003 / 27 Iyar, 5763
Was Martin Luther King a shakedown artist?
Surprising as it might sound, he was -- in the eyes of, get this, Jesse
Jackson. Yes, I know this seems improbable, but so many of the things the
Rev. Jackson has said seem improbable. He is a man who has risen on the
power of his own scandals.
Do you recall his grave appearances at the Clinton White House
to counsel the Boy President on his sex scandal with Miss Monica Lewinsky?
Shortly thereafter, it transpired that the Reverend brought along his very
own mistress, and she at the time was heavy with child. The couple posed for
pictures with the embattled president. Lewinsky is not in the pictures.
Do you remember the uproar when it was revealed that he paid his
mistress off with monies from one of his charitable foundations? And do you
remember the three pardons this man of the cloth wrested from the Great
Pardoner just hours before the Clinton administration was no more? Two of
those pardoned were brought back to the Rev. Jackson's employment, one a
crook who had defrauded the homeless out of $5,000,000 and another a crook
who had been convicted of soliciting sex with a minor. The chap had been a
member of Congress, so maybe his transgression was understandable.
At any rate, Jackson hired the ex-congressman as a consultant on
prison reform. When he did, it put me in mind of Jackson's response to O. J.
Simpson's acquittal on charges he had murdered his wife. Jackson suggested
that now Simpson would be an excellent spokesman in the campaign against
wife abuse. I did not make that up.
Now, the excellent John McCaslin tells us in his "Inside the
Beltway" column, published in the infallible Washington Times, that Jackson
has taken umbrage to claims made by the National Legal and Policy Center
(NLPC) that he is a shakedown artist. During a public interview, Jackson, wh
en asked about NLPC's objections to his importunities upon corporate
America, exploded, "These attacks by the policy center, these are unending
attacks," and more, "Dr. Martin Luther King was called a communist. He was
called a nigger. He was hated. He was killed. This kind of hate baiting is
really a perversion."
For my part, I do not believe King's struggle for equal rights
and racial integration is in any way similar to Jackson's pursuit of money
and favors from giant corporations. Moreover, though King did find himself
occasionally in the company of leftists, he was not a communist. When he was
killed, it was a tragedy for the civil rights movement and for America,
though Jackson wasted no time exploiting the tragedy.
Within hours of King's assassination, Jackson was appearing on
television, falsely claiming that King died in his arms. Actually, King died
in the arms of the Rev. Ralph Abernathy, of a ghastly gunshot wound. Jackson
was nowhere to be found. Yet in his public appearances he claimed the blood
on his shirt was King's. The travesty was the beginning of Jackson's rise to
the top, to Bill Clinton's side during his squalid sex scandal and to the
executive suites of the corporations he now shakes down.
The saga of Jesse Jackson is an amazing one. As Kenneth
Timmerman chronicles in his excellent study of the man, "Shakedown: Exposing
the Real Jesse Jackson," Jackson began his career with some genuine
achievements capable of easing the plight of poor and uneducated blacks. But
the colossal frauds that he perpetrated from the start far outweigh the
achievements, and the frauds have continued to this very day. Many of the
frauds are prominent on the public record. Long ago, Jackson should have
been hustled off history's stage as a cheap huckster, but the denouement has
yet to take place. It is typical of our times.
There is an amazing tolerance for corruption nowadays,
particularly if the corrupt are on the left. That is why so many sectors of
the American left are so corrupt. It is also why it now appears that the
American left is in decline. Surely Jackson is in decline, but he can still
draw a crowd and still make a buck. Will he ever totally exhaust the
country's goodwill? Will there ever be for him one scandal too many? My
guess is that he will gently shove off into retirement. It is not likely
that he is going to have another Democratic president to counsel for a long
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